- THERE is a glamor about the making of steel. (Fitch, The Steelworkers. 1910.)
It’s an inevitable word association. It doesn’t matter that 30 – 40 years have passed since the collapse of the monolithic steel industry here; mention Pittsburgh and the reflexive response is going to be either “steel mills” or “Steelers.” Industrial production leaves the kind of physical, emotional and intellectual legacy that medical research just won’t capture.
In 2008, Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh received an IMLS (Institute of Museum and Library Services) National Leadership Demonstration Grant. In this grant Carnegie Library undertook to scan, digitize and make available 500,000 pages of historic materials related to the iron and steel industry here. Our goal was to bring together the varied materials in our collection, books, periodicals, photographs, catalogs and maps that both directly and indirectly touched the iron and steel industries in Pittsburgh and around the region. The link is inescapable for us; no steel rails – no Carnegie Steel Corp. – No Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh.
In finding materials to scan we uncovered a treasure trove of distinct pieces of information, shelved in their respective parts of the library collection, that are now brought together digitally to tell a greater story; something harder to do when working with the physical shelving arrangements we use. All told, we’ve prepared, arranged, recorded, boxed, tracked, cataloged, and determined metadata for 1280 items totaling 522,895 pages. Finding this material is pretty easy.
Go to http://www.carnegielibrary.org/eCLP/ironsteel/ to read about it, or http://www.clpdigital.org/jspui/ to throw yourself into searching by keyword. The other way to access these materials is to use the library catalog and conduct an Author Search for Pittsburgh Iron & Steel Heritage Collection, or to do a Keyword Search for IMLS. Try Keyword searching some obvious names or phrases like IMLS and Carnegie Steel or IMLS and Mesta. Mesta Machinery Co. was a Pittsburgh based manufacturer of the equipment and machinery that made steel. Their products are what made all the noise and belched all the smoke. The reason to include IMLS as part of the search is that there are still many materials we didn’t include in the project, because of condition, content or because they’re still under copyright and can’t be reproduced without permission.
Not everything scanned has made it into the digital collection yet; the new “product,” usually a PDF, still needs to be cataloged and have its metadata completed, but it’s about 2/3rds finished. Carnegie Library’s Catalog Librarians may have had the hardest jobs in this project.
Keep in mind that Saturday, April 14th from 11 – 3 is an open Community Day at Main Library to officially launch the Iron & Steel Heritage Collection. The library will feature book talks, story sharing, photographic displays, and at 11:30 and 1:30 a presentation with questions and answers by Mr. Tom Barnes, a librarian in Reference Services and a former steel worker.
To be continued…